Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, 1973
Camped out 3 nights. Spruce, fir, magnificent. Air, invigorating. Sky, stars, remarkable.
Heavy downpour last night. Part of our old, canvas tent collapsed. We crawled out into the darkness and managed to dive into the VW as thunder boomed and lightning struck close to our campsite.
“Don’t touch any metal,” Rob said.
I guess he was trying to be helpful. I informed him that I had enough sense to not turn myself into a human lightning rod.
He said, “That’s why I love you.”
I scrunched in the Beetle’s back seat and pulled a damp blanket over me. Rob clattered around in front.
“ Just trying to untangle myself from the gear shift,” he said. Then, “Ouch. Damn. Ah, that’s better. G’night, hon.” He was asleep before I finished my answer.
The storm soon eased and Rob’s snores replaced the thunder.
I tried to sleep but odors of dirty laundry, gasoline, stale cigarettes, and weed combined with dampness and chill caused bronchial spasms which compelled me to reach over the seat and grope for my husband. I grabbed Rob’s hair. He bolted upright, blurting several expletives. I gasped and tapped on the window. He understood and opened it. Fresher air improved my breathing. Rob turned, held me by the neck, and kissed me on the forehead. I think he tried to hug me but missed. Volkswagen Beetles are so unsuitable for lovemaking.
Rob returned to dreamland and I dozed off for a while.
Sand flies struck around 2 a.m. Thousands flew in through the open window. Voracious, stinging creatures, they launched a ceaseless attack against me. I yelled for Rob. He flung open the car door and jumped out. I pushed the seat forward and followed, hitting my head against the door frame as I plunged into the night and joined Rob in a frantic search for the flashlight and insect repellent. An eternity later, we found both items in the trunk under the toolbox that covered the bag of oil-soaked rags Rob uses to keep his engine clean and his ganja hidden. We sprayed ourselves and the car then spent the rest of the night sitting, scratching, and inhaling toxic bug spray fumes.
Exhausted, defeated by nature, yet determined to rise above our unfortunate experience, we broke camp today before breakfast. We found a motel with a laundry room and bought calamine and cotton at a local drugstore. I daubed my insect bites but it brought little relief. My body’s a mass of itchy, quarter-sized, red welts. The Bretons say recovery takes 4-5 days.
In bed now as I write. A light sheet covers my splotchy self. My less splotchy husband is beside me. He’s smiling and just said, “Happy honeymoon, my love.”
I smile back. “Happy honeymoon, Rob. I love you so much.”
His smile broadens. He moves closer.
If he touches me, he’s a dead man.